Do Audiobooks Count as Reading?


Is listening to an audiobook the same as reading a book?

I keep a list of the books I’ve read during each calendar year. It usually ends up being somewhere between 22 and 30 titles. Not a ton, but a fair number.

(I read mostly at night before bed, and it’s tough sometimes to keep from dozing off. That’s not a critique of the writing. I’m just tired after getting up at 3:45am.)

One of my co-workers heard about my list, and said her own list wouldn’t be very long because she mostly listens to audiobooks. I was puzzled. Why wouldn’t that count?

Oh, no, she said. Listening to a book is not the same as reading one.

Sides are definitely drawn on the issue, and some folks are adamant. They’re convinced listening ain’t reading. (Side note: I love an occasional perfect placement of that “a” word, so back off.)

Two things here, and the first is relatively simple: Why the hell do you care?

But, allowing for that care in order to accommodate the debate, what’s your criteria for something to officially be read? Must one actually see the words in order to properly digest them?


If you make that argument, then a blind person’s Braille books don’t count. And if you make that argument, then you’re an ass.

Now, for the record, I'm enough of a puritan to not count watching a movie. Sorry, watching the Dragon Tattoo series of motion pictures doesn't mean you've read the books.

I'm also not advocating that students start listening and stop reading. Acquire the skill in school, become proficient at it, and then (as an adult) choose what works best for you. Listening to an audiobook during a long commute, for example, is simply practical. But at least be able to read, and read well.

As for the original argument? I’m counting audiobooks as books read. How the words get into my brain shouldn’t matter, as long as they arrive.

Your turn.